05 September 2009

A Right Companionable Beast

However we may apportion the lion's share of blame for the conflict, Russia's incursion last year into Georgia was a reminder. Political and economic evil did not die with the Cold War. Neither did it simply retire into its cave for an indefinite hibernation. After all, collective evil is not just the lumbering behemoth we remember from the Soviet Era. We just happened to catch the monster on a bad day. Wait till we see what its good days are like. On the whole it remains a superbly eager, resourceful, enterprising, even chameleonic animal. Above all it is never blind to an opportunity. And while lately the Totalitarian Beast may be showing some rather abundant signs of life in Putin's Russia, that need not blind us to its penchant for wearing a Saudi - perhaps even a (winsomely smiling) Chinese - as well as a Russian, face.

Nor need we ever doubt the Beast's willingness to find a breeding-place in the bowels of religions and civilizations, no less than of nations and territories. Indeed I doubt if any civilization is wholly immune to the brutally simplistic charms of totalitarianism. Least of all one that places a high premium on efficiency. All the more reason, it seems to me, why we should be scarcely less alert to signs of the creature's track-marks upon our own, European and American - and Christian - souls.

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